Highly placed government sources have told Radio VOP that the Mugabe issued the directive through a memo written and signed by the country’s chief secretary to the president and cabinet Misheck Sibanda last week.
The controversial directive by Mugabe, which goes against the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which gave power to Tsvangirai, is likely to escalate tensions in the transitional government following last week’s collapse of talks between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations.
“The directive from Mugabe came as a surprise to us, and in the letter he does not explain where he is getting the orders but it is clearly a Zanu PF and Mugabe ploy to create problems in the unity government. It’s yet another attempt by Mugabe to abuse his powers and ostracise the prime minister.
“Mugabe’s strategy in this issue is clear. He is aware that the issue will rejected outright by the MDC and but he wants it referred to the principals as an outstanding issue where it will take long to be resolved. In the meantime, Mugabe’s ministers will find an excuse not to report to Tsvangirai arguing that the issue has not be resolved,” said an MDC minister.
According to information at hand, the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s office, Gorden Moyo wrote back to Sibanda seeking clarification but the chief secretary to the cabinet responded by saying that if there were problems with the new directive, it had to be resolved by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara who are the principals in the GPA.
Although it was not clear at the time of going to press what the MDC was planning to do to hit back to the ploy to usurp Tsvangirai’s powers, Radio VOP understands that a showdown meeting of the principals is expected when Mugabe returns from the African Union summit in Ethiopia.
Sources also said talks facilitator, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa has also been made aware of Mugabe’s latest maneuvers and is expected to brief colleagues in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) before engaging the 85-year-old Zimbabwe leader.
Since the Zanu PF congress in December last year, the party has taken a hardline stance in the inclusive government including ordering their negotiators not to give in to any demands from the MDC until sanctions are removed.
The latest move is seen by observers as an attempt by Mugabe to give his vice presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo some powers after the GPA effectively rendered them ceremonial with no job to do except attending functions. The GPA through Amendment 19 of the constitution gives powers to the Prime Minister with all ministers expected to report to him.
Tsvangirai also has powers to formulate and implement policy and is the one who is supposed to define the mandates of the ministers. He also chairs the council of ministers.